A Champaign-Urbana favorite tradition, Curtis Orchard is a staple for many area families during the fall season
Kids activities, delicious treats, kittens galore, pumpkins, apples, corn mazes and more — the list goes on and on when it comes to why we love the orchard
What may be one of Champaign-Urbana’s most well-known family attractions, Curtis Orchard is known as a little country escape just barely outside the heart of Champaign-Urbana. The live animals, delicious food and kid-friendly attractions may be just the perfect mix of everything you’re looking for in a fall family outing. Here are 10 things you want to know before you head out to the orchard this year.
- There’s no admission fee.
You don’t have to pay a fee to enjoy much of the orchard. Show up and pop into the store for donuts, go peruse the pumpkin patch or just chase some kittens and call it a day. This definitely fits the description of budget-friendly if you pass on some of the attractions that cost a fee.
- Weekdays (and particularly weekday afternoons) are the quietest time to visit the orchard.
Weekdays in general will be much quieter than weekends all fall long. Now some of the attractions aren’t running on weekdays (like pony rides) and there are things like live music and such on the weekends that add to the festive atmosphere. But if the goal is to have a quiet family outing or a playdate meet-up with another family or two, you’ll want to pick a weekday. When littles have to go home for naptime, the orchard gets particularly quiet in the early afternoon.
- Apple picking — here’s the scoop.
The way that apple picking works is that each person (over 36 inches tall) pays a fee to go back into the apple picking area and with it, you get a bag to fill. So if you take a family of five, for example, you’re going to leave with a whole lot of apples when you’re done! You can always grab a bag of freshly picked apples from the shelves of the country store and enjoy them that way, too.
- Yes, there’s a pumpkin patch. But many other produce finds are available for purchase, too.
If you’re looking for gourds, decorative corn, summer squash to eat, or many other items (seasonally, of course) you can find them at the orchard.
- The kittens are completely adorable and yes, you can pick them up.
If you love animals, you’re going to LOVE Curtis Orchard. The kittens running everywhere are very friendly and used to guests picking them up, so go for it. However, check the bottom part of your stroller before leaving because they’ve been known to hop in there and stowaway until later. All kittens are micro-chipped and it is very important they STAY at the orchard when you leave.
- Paid activities — what’s the scoop?
If you are going to partake in the kid activities while at the orchard, again, weekdays are a great option. Get a play-all-day wristband for a great savings over what you’d pay on the weekend. Because info on what is open and current prices can change from season to season, we recommend you check the Curtis Orchard website to plan for your visit.
- Plan to eat at the Flying Monkey cafe (or one of the outdoor vendors during the weekends) as you can’t bring in your own food.
Since food is for sale, it’s understood that one of the rules is you can’t bring in your own food. Hold off on the picnic during your orchard trip and either visit the cafe or just head back home for your meal. If you’re looking for a park to have a picnic at afterwards, find our list right here of all the best places for a picnic.
- Have a birthday party or a field trip.
Group outings are a blast at Curtis Orchard! Host your child’s fall birthday party here or organize that homeschool co-op field trip. Looking for something a little more spontaneous? Just plan a parent meet-up and let the kids play and roam while parents visit any time. This is a popular spot for that.
- Get your holiday pies here.
Yes, the donuts rock, and the baked goods in general are pretty spectacular. Get on the list for holiday pie orders and order your Thanksgiving or Christmas pies at Curtis Orchard. You can get them already baked or frozen to bake at home. We think your family will be asking for one every year after you do this once! And it’s one less thing to prep.
- Pack a quarter … or five.
No, this isn’t Aldi. But your kids are going to want to feed the goats and if you come prepared with a few quarters, that activity in and of itself can be the only thing you pay for your whole visit, if you wish.
Looking for more information on fall fun with your family?
Champaign-Urbana Area Fall Festivals | Pumpkin Patches, Corn Mazes and Apple Picking in Champaign-Urbana and Beyond | Where to Pick Apples Near Champaign-Urbana | Top Five: Places to See Fall Colors in Champaign-Urbana | Where to Take Fall Family Photos in Champaign-Urbana | Champaign-Urbana Pumpkin Food and Drink Trail